Discovering wetlands in Australia

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2010

A Primary classroom resource

In celebration of World Wetlands Day 2011 and the Ramsar Convention's fortieth anniversary, the Australian Government has produced a primary school classroom education kit. The package has been designed as a curriculum resource for Primary School students in Years 3-6. It is also suitable for use in wetland education centres, and for anyone who wants to find out more about Australia's wetlands.

Activity kit:

Teaching unit

Student fact sheets

Origami animals

Wetland word games (find-a-word, word scramble, and wetland animals)

Activity movies



Why teach your class about wetlands?

Wetlands are everywhere in Australia, from the man-made ponds of your suburb, and the rivers that criss-cross the continent, to vast floodplains in central Australia that only see water every few years. We often pass them unnoticed and without a thought to the important jobs they perform each day.

The term 'wetlands' encompasses a vast range of water based areas including swamps, marshes, billabongs, lakes, salt marshes, mudflats, mangroves, coral reefs, fens and peatlands.

Wetlands are an important part of the Australian landscape. They act as filters for our waterways, breeding sites for hundreds of Australian animals and recreational centres for many communities. They protect our shores from wave action, reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants and improve water quality. They provide habitat for animals and plants and many contain a wide diversity of life, supporting plants and animals that are found nowhere else in the world.

Wetlands are vital habitats for international migration by birds, demonstrating how habitats around the world are connected.

Because of their unique ability to trap sediments and filter nutrients, wetlands have been likened to a cleansing 'kidney' within the river systems. They are essential for sustaining healthy rivers, on which communities throughout Australia depend.

All Australians rely on water and the quality of our waterways to sustain life. Whether it's water for our households, industries or ecosystems, wetlands play a central role and their conservation should be a priority for all Australians.

This unit is one way your students can be involved in thinking about the role of wetlands, their importance and why we should all hold some responsibility in their conservation.

Studies of wetlands can be incorporated into a range of curriculum areas, including Science, Geography, English and the Arts.

Using this resource

The information and activities outlined in this resource will assist classes to:

  • Investigate Australia's wetlands
  • Gain an understanding of the diversity of wetland ecosystems in Australia
  • Broaden teachers' and students' understanding of wetlands and their importance to the Australian environment
  • Learn about the Ramsar Convention and internationally important wetlands in Australia
  • Demonstrate understanding of Australia's wetlands and the ability to share and communicate this information to an intended audience.

Further information